School Health Services
In most areas of the country, the role and scope of school health services have evolved according to the changing social environment of the population. School health services' main objectives are to foster the whole student physically and mentally so students can work toward lifelong success and health. In the past, some of the major health problems school school-age children faced included contagious diseases often unheard of today, such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough. School health services often incorporated separating those with contagious diseases from the healthy school population. Today, however, most contagious diseases have been eradicated and school children's health risks may oftentimes have their origins in social or behavioral conditions.
Keywords Behavioral Problems; Budgetary Constraints; Bullying; Childhood Obesity; Children's Diseases; Guidance Counselor; Health Curriculum; Health Services; Intervention; Nutrition; Physical Education; Physical Health; School Nurse; Smoking Cessation; Vision Screening
School Safety: School Health Services
In most areas of the country, the role and scope of school health services have evolved according to the changing social environment of the population. School health services' main objectives are to foster the whole student physically and mentally so students can work toward lifelong success and health. To that end, school health services promote health and safety, work to prevent certain health problems, get involved with present health issues, manage individual cases as needed, and work with family members and others when appropriate (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2004). Striving for individual optimum health should be a prime goal of students, their families, school personnel, and the community at large.
In the past, some of the major health problems school school-age children faced included contagious diseases often unheard of today, such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough. School health services often incorporated separating those with contagious diseases from the healthy school population.
Today, however, most contagious diseases have been eradicated and school children's health risks may oftentimes have their origins in social or behavioral conditions. These roots can include a multitude of situations that may hinder learning, such as a general lack of preparedness, social, emotional, and health deficiencies or handicaps, poverty, smoking or living with a smoker, alcohol consumption by students or their family members, the threat of weapons in school, attempted suicide or otherwise causing or considering physical harm to oneself, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; assault and the threat of assault, an assortment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders; and homelessness. They may also face stress of many types-pressure from peers, studying and test anxiety, real or perceived competition for academic and extracurricular accolades, and full schedules throughout the week (McKenzie & Richmond, 1998).
In some schools around the country serious obstacles such as those mentioned above are more commonplace than others, and less serious problems are routine. When any of these types of problems do come up in a school, it is almost certain the situation will disrupt individual students' lives and can be a distraction in classrooms. Depending on its severity, the problem can affect the entire school community. When students are less than mentally and physically healthy and their attendance at school wanes, learning at school will suffer (McKenzie & Richmond, 1998). A comprehensive school health services program is designed to be proactive and attempt to troubleshoot these types of situations.
Good health is best defined not just as the lack of sickness and disease. Instead, it is the total physical, mental, and social well-being of each person (McKenzie & Richmond, 1998). Good health is a mandatory ingredient for successful learning and many factors can weaken it. School health services work toward that goal.
Today's School Health Program
School health services are found in some form in every school throughout the United States. Each school's distinctive community, its wants and needs, the available resources, unique challenges, and its budgetary constraints will determine the framework of its coordinated school health program. No two schools' programs of services are alike as needs, budgets, and concerns can vary significantly throughout the country (McKenzie & Richmond, 1998).
Most children in the United States spend more than half their waking hours at school. Besides an already-full school day, many students are also involved with regular sports and social activities before and after school while older students often have part-time employment during those hours they are not in high school. For school-aged children and youth, staying in good health is tantamount to keeping up their routine (McKenzie & Richmond, 1998). Since students at school are a captive audience, schools should be important providers of health services. A school health program tailored to the unique population of the school will consist of many components, some of which will overlap in form and function (McKenzie & Richmond, 1998).
School health services are generally described as preventive services, education, emergency care, referral and management of acute and chronic health conditions (Duncan & Igoe, 1998). Each school's package of services is designed to adequately satisfy the health requirements of its students and staff. To do this, the health services should be able to diagnose and prevent various health problems and preventable injuries as they strive to make certain those attending school receive the type of health care they need.
Components of a school health services program will ideally include an on-site health office, a comprehensive health education curriculum, a physical education program, an attention to school nutrition, available student counseling services, a wholesome school environment, and family and community involvement in schools (McKenzie & Richmond, 1998).Taken individually, each component has unique and important characteristics.
The School Health Office
The staff of the school health office provides the core services of screening, diagnostic treatment, and health counseling services within the school. At given times, this office will also provide:
• Urgent and emergency medical care (ideally, all school staff, not just those in the health office will hold first aid certification),
• Prompt diagnosis and needed intervention for all degrees of medical and health problems,
• Various health screenings for all students,
• Medication dispensing throughout the school day,
• Individualized services for students with special health needs,
• Student and staff health counseling and prevention education, and
• Educating students about methods of promoting good health.
The school health office staff will also provide networking as needed with other community health providers (Duncan & Igoe, 1998). In addition, to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990 and the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1973, all schools have been required to provide individual health care for those students with exceptionalities who qualify (Duncan & Igoe, 1998).
Since most U. S. children older than five are enrolled in school, the school health office often ends up being the logical place for them to obtain preventive health services, to include vision screening, hearing tests, and other gaps in health and social services. School administrators, nurses, and teachers are aware that although the responsibility for a child's health care is the parents', this is not always possible. Poor and uninsured families are often able to fill their children's health care needs only because of the services available through their school's health office. Some schools with a large student immigrant population may offer immunization clinics with community health organizations (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2004). Annual vision and dental screenings and referrals are most valuable to those families who would otherwise not seek this preventive health care (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1987). In some schools, a specially trained nurse may provide physical examinations for those students who may have no other way to get this well-child health care.
The school health office can also provide preventive counseling services to students, addressing such concerns as cigarette smoking, drugs and alcohol, HIV and AIDS, eating disorders, issues having to do with puberty and adolescence, and health-related learning disorders. Some students may have severe emotional and physical challenges for which they need special health counseling and the school nurse and health office will work to accommodate these students as necessary (Duncan & Igoe, 1998). Some students may have behavioral and health concerns...
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